Ares the WWE Star — Percy Jackson and the Olympians Episode 5 Review

S1E5, “A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers”

Leah Jefferies and Walker Scobell as Annabeth and Percy in the Thrill O'Love ride in Waterland.
PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS — “A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers” (Disney/David Bukach)

The following review contains spoilers for Percy Jackson and the Olympians S1E5, “A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers” (written by Rick Riordan & Jonathan E. Steinberg and directed by Jet Wilkinson)

PERCABETH!!! We get their first HUG! Their first SEAWEED BRAIN! The emotional connection is growing! They’re sacrificing themselves for one another! God, Leah Jefferies and Walker Scobell deliver enemies to friends to lovers! This slow burn is already rolling.

Percy (Walker Scobell) emerges from the river over the handrail onto the dock, and he is ready to get going after his near-death experience, but Annabeth (Leah Jefferies) isn’t prepared to move on just yet because she hugs that boy—a lingering hug!! And Grover Underwood (Aryan Simhadri) just stands there awkwardly. It was so pre-teen! That is middle school behaviour! I loved every bit of it! I’m so glad we’re living in the 21st century because if they had been making this in the ’80s/’90s, the producers would have forced these children to kiss either on the dock or in the water park. Thank the gods, Rick Riordan lets kids be kids!

I spoke too soon in my last review about the missing goose chase. Gabe Ugliano (Timm Sharp), Percy’s stepfather, has taken to the media over his missing vehicle… and wife. This adds to the long list of obstacles in their quest and grounds the fantasy of mythos in the “real world” of Percy Jackson. Introducing the complicated modern world and how it interacts with the monsters, demigods, etc., means we’ll continue to see this complication in later seasons, adding to the stakes of later quests. I was worried that including this story element from Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief novel would overcomplicate the plot of the series. However, it provided logistical world-building and stakes to this episode and the rest of the season.

We’re introduced to the Fates much later than in the novel. The three women sit outside the Arch, knitting/weaving, until Annabeth sees one cut the thread. I’m unsure about the timing and relevance of this detail. It may be intended to heighten the stakes as the police’s involvement has, but I’m not sure it was as effective.

Adam Copeland as Ares on his bike in “A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers”
PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS — “A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers” (Disney/David Bukach)

Ares (Adam Copeland), the God of War and Son of Zeus, finds the trio on the side of the highway hitchhiking their way to California. I found so much of this scene comical: Percy’s inference that Annabeth is on edge because of the hug; Annabeth correcting him; the way Ares pulls up; and the way the trio keeps peaking up over the guard rail to speak to him. It was fun! I don’t think Adam Copeland is delivering the fear factor the novel describes; he’s playing Ares as slightly sinister, narcissistic and goofy. Rick Riordan’s novel never claims Ares to be an intelligent god; however, the ethereal element of him is missing with how Copeland takes on this character. I also think the dialogue given to Copeland wasn’t top-tier. Why was a Greek god given a line with “pop off” in it? It sounded wrong coming out of Copeland’s mouth. Although I do appreciate Ares starting internet beef—that was a fun detail.

In terms of sticking to the chapters of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Episode 5 makes many changes. I think I understand why some of these alterations were made. Having Grover hang back with Ares while Annabeth and Percy go to Waterland gives Grover something to do and offers fresh audiences an opportunity to catch up with who the real lightning thief might be. So much of this scheme is mapped out through Percy’s inner monologue in the novel; there needs to be more external investigation in the series. The writers have made a clever work around here.

Nearly everything in Waterland was different from the book. At least from my perspective while reading the chapter, the park and rides look much less carnival-y and more theme park-y. I also found that some shots outside the love tunnel were much too dark/dimly lit for me to understand what the duo was referencing. This has been a theme with lighting and cinematography lately. Some say it concerns the varying ways audiences consume media and how differing setups change the viewing experience. No matter; I just want to be able to see what’s happening on screen.

It’s in the water park that we also get Percy offering to see a movie with Annabeth. CUTE! We love to see it! They’re bonding. The moment is shortly lived; the entrance to the park is rigged to strike fear into attendees. I found this to be a little extra and a bit pointless. I’d say it halted the plot rather than added to it. I think introducing Hephaestus would have been just as well while riding the Thrill Ride O’Love when Annabeth and Percy dissect his story.

Timothy Omundson as Hephaestus in the Tunnel O'Love ride talking to Annabeth
PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS — “A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers” (Disney/David Bukach)

This scene is so on point. The song choice. The projection on the tunnel. The compassion. Percy’s empathy towards Hephaestus. Percy’s inferences about Olympus’s true nature. Annabeth, coming in hot with this is what makes you a better demigod. These two characters are shown having taken major strides in their relationship from Episode 2 to now. What is also becoming more apparent is the show’s clear intention to hold figures of power accountable for their out-of-pocket decisions and actions. Episode 5, “A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers,” does a lot of emotional and thematic heavy lifting.

After the emotional slow goodbye between Percy and Annabeth, as he’s swallowed by the throne, Annabeth has a very raw and candid conversation with Hephaestus (Timothy Omundson), the outcast of Olympus and God of Artisans. She is able to appeal to his desire for empathy and compassion and will to change through Percy’s personality. Though long-winded, I admire how Percy Jackson and the Olympians is blatantly addressing the novel’s themes about difference, abandonment and inclusion.

We’re teased with next week’s events not only by the end credits but by Ares shouting out Hermes (Lin-Manuel Miranda) hanging out at the Lotus Casino in Las Vegas. This is also not in the novel. Percy doesn’t directly interact with Hermes until Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Sea of Monsters. I’m curious to see how the Lotus Casino is treated and changed as this chapter was.

Written by Isobel Grieve

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